Friday, March 3, 2017
A Quick Look at TV: THE TWILIGHT ZONE
What can one say about The Twilight Zone that hasn't already been said? Rod Serling's imaginative anthology series remains one of the best of it's breed, continuing to captivate and win fans through continued television re-broadcasts decades after it's original run. Sharp, well-written, limitless, the subjects of episodes ranged from shock to moody scares to broad comedy and everything in between. Dozens of episodes jockey for position of "Best" like the gripping tale of a passenger jet lost in time (The Odyssey of Flight 33), the desperate search for a little girl trapped between dimensions (Little Girl Lost), the terrifying and thought-provoking story of a monster in the form of a small boy with unlimited powers (It's A Good Life), the story of a lost traveler discovering the terrifying secret of a group of secluded holy men (The Howling Man), the complacency of humanity in the face of friendly other-world visitation (To Serve Man), the terror of a frightened woman menaced by tiny space travelers (The Invaders), or the panic that ensues when the unexplainable happens in an all-American suburb (The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street) are all in the running. Basically, discussing The Twilight Zone comes down to asking what your favorite episode is. Were I to select a single one, it might be The Shelter, a reality-based tale of impending enemy attack and the suburban panic to enter the street's single fallout shelter. Other favorites of mine include The 7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms, 100 Years Over The Rim, and the classic The Obsolete Man. What's your favorite? The series was a smash from the beginning, though Serling reportedly didn't get along well with the network. In the fourth season, the station felt the show should be an hour series. Serling complied, but this experiment failed. The packed fifth season returned to the half-hour format, but it was too late. There have been scattered attempts at reviving the show, but without Serling's smarts each have fallen by the way side. Faring a little better was a big budget movie, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, in the early 80's. There was also a TV movie reportedly base on a couple of unused scripts Serling had written for the original run. I don't think I even finished it. Though Serling intended to do other things with it, many saw his 70's series The Night Gallery to be an attempt to re-create the older series. This was largely what the network wanted The Night Gallery to be, but it was a different animal. Every spooker anthology series that has followed owes to The Twilight Zone to some extent. There were a few such programs before The Twilight Zone, of course, but Serling crafted the perfect blend of elements. "There is a fifth dimension...."